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by Lisa G.
Web of Deception
Center for Consumer Freedom
"We always have a knife in our teeth," he said. Since activists "drive
consumer behavior on meat, alcohol, fat, sugar, tobacco and caffeine," his
strategy is "to shoot the messenger... We've got to attack their credibility as
spokespersons." Rick Berman in a 1999 interview with Chain Leader, a trade
publication for restaurant chains.
Consumer Freedom is one of the more active of several front groups created by
Berman & Co., a public affairs firm owned by lobbyist Rick Berman. Based in
Berman & Co.
represents the tobacco industry as well as hotels, beer distributors, taverns
and restaurant chains. Contributors to this corporate lobby (which advertises
itself as a nonprofit but is funded entirely by corporate donors and even
pretends to solicit donations in the
section of it's website) reads like a who's who for the corporate food
industry. They include:
Armour-Swift, Bestfoods, Burger King Max & Erma's, Chi Chi's, Chili's, Coca
Cola, Cracker Barrel, Custom Cuts, El Torito, Hard Rock Cafe, International
House of Pancakes, Jack-in-the-Box, Marriott, Marie Calendar, National Steak
and Poultry, Tyson Foods, Wendy's, White Castle, Cracker Barrel, Hooters, Olive
Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Perkins Family Restaurants, Philip Morris, Purdue
Farms, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Shoney's, Sizzlers,
Steak & Ale, Sugar Foods, TGI Friday's, Uno's Restaurants, Wendy's and White
Websites such as as
Center for Consumer Freedom
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers
as well as
television and written ads attacking everything from labor unions to health and
PetaKillsAnimals.com website was created in July 2004.
This campaign revolves around a comparatively unnewsworthy incident involving
humane euthanasia administered by PETA employees and requested by a rural
shelter in N. Carolina that used gas chambers. Due to the media frenzy
following this event; this shelter has resumed inhumane gassing. Berman & Co.
reliably attacks thorns in the corporate sides of their clients in the meat,
dairy, restaurant, cosmetics and other industries.
Full story in
June 5, 2005 two PETA employees were arrested for dumping the bodies of eighteen
dogs and cats wrapped in plastic bags in a parking lot dumpster in rural N.
Carolina. The eighteen dogs and cats in question were released by a N. Carolina
shelter to PETA employees to be given a lethal injection. The employees had
dumped the bodies on the long drive back to Norfolk Va, because they had started
to smell. The parking lot had been staked out because of previous complaints of
animal remains being dumped there. PETA began sending workers to the Bertie
County animal shelter in 2000, when a police officer called the group to
complain about shelter conditions. At that time the shelter enclosure had no
roof and dogs floated in flooded cages. Another dog feasted on a dead cat.
Picking up animals for lethal injection is a compassionate service for animals
who would normally be shot by a .22 or die painfully in a gas chamber where they
are injected with a paralytic agent and left to suffocate, fully conscious while
their organs seize up, in a cinder block cell. Adoption was never discussed
according Daphna Nachminovitch of PETA. According to Jack Warmack, lawyer for
the two employees: Hinkle and Cook were doing the dirty work that others
couldn't face: giving peaceful deaths to the legions of animals that North
Carolina residents abandon each year. Three defense lawyers said PETA had made
no secret of its plans for the animals. On several occasions, the lawyers said,
shelter employees watched Hinkle give animals injections. The defense team
said local residents lied about their beliefs that PETA was finding homes for
animals, for fear of public outrage.
PETA employees were eventually acquitted of the 31 charges of Animal Cruelty.
The idea that homes could have been found for the animals, the lawyers argued,
was silly. The animals came from a shelter where disease was rampant. Some were
aggressive. Even for healthy animals, there aren't enough homes, the defense
lawyers said. Over the years, PETA workers picked up animals with infected
gashes, tumors, even bullet wounds that were left untreated, defense lawyers
said, showing graphic pictures. The lawyers said PETA agreed to take animals to
save them from terrifying deaths in gas chambers. The animals were killed
instead with shots of sodium Phenobarbital, which most vets use. The defense
also argued that law enforcement officials were more concerned with making a
dramatic arrest involving a controversial group than with protecting animals.
After the verdict was announced PETA officials said they would return to their
work, trying to protect animals in northeastern North Carolina. They said they
would even be willing to take over euthanizations again."
Statements of Daphna Nachminovitch, Domestic Animals, Wildlife Rescue &
PETA has no magic wand to place the droves of unwanted animals in loving homes.
But we have prevented suffering by providing euthanasia services because before
we did so, animals were shot with a .22, gassed in a windowless metal box, and
injected with a paralytic agent that left them to suffocate, fully conscious as
their organs seized up. We have also found homes for many animals, sterilized
others free of charge, cleaned the shelters, sent wardens to training programs,
and worked with local veterinarians. At the same time, we have pressed the
counties to implement a spay/neuter program and an adoption program, to open
during evening hours, and more, but so far this has not happened. A terrible
mistake was made with the dead bodies, but no secret was made of the fact that
PETA euthanizes animals and that the animals retrieved from the pounds would be
provided with a humane death. In fact, it was I who met and spoke with
officials, and not one of them ever even asked me about adoption. The pounds
don't have an adoption program, an adoption rate, or even open hours, and never
have. The animals PETA was picking up as a service to the counties were
slated to die.
Image of gas chamber used in facility.
"Before PETA stepped in, the animals in Bertie County were shot and gassed a
rusty, windowless gas box. In Windsor, animals were shot; and in Northampton
County, animals were gassed in a cinderblock cell (the use of which has been
resumed due to the media frenzy that followed this incident) and injected with a
paralytic agent that left them to suffocate, fully conscious as their organs
seized up. Photos of these facilities can be seen at
Most people don't realize such pounds and gas chambers even exist in this day
Euthanasia statistics & groups that support/oppose spay/neuter & breeding
N. Carolina euthanasia stats are the 3rd highest in the US at 250,000 dogs and
cats a year. Gas chambers are still used in 30 NC counties. High stats are
generally attributed to lack of mandatory spay/neuter laws and breeding
restrictions endorsed by PETA, HSUS and other animal advocacy and welfare groups
as well as most state and local governments. Mandatory spay/neuter laws and
breeding restrictions agressively lobbied against by the
and its mouthpiece the
In NC counties with spay/neuter laws (Buncombe Co, 2006) euthanasia
rates have decreased.
Approximately 9.6 million companion animals are euthanized
annually in the US
Targets perceived as threats to their corporate masters include:
groups, health advocates, smoking advocates, living wage advocates, labor
unions, environmentalists and anyone who opposes the corporate interests of
their clients who remain comfortably in the background. They actively oppose
smoking bans, lowering the legal blood-alcohol level and minimum wage
increases. This information was obtained by the
Center for Media
through a whistleblower.
IRS Form 990
which it filed for the 6 month period from July to December 1999 (under the name
Guest Choice Network)
showed that almost all of it's financial support came from a handful of
anonymous sources. It received no income from membership dues. Like other
Berman & Co. front groups, CCF is headquartered at the following address:
Berman & Co.
1775 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202) 463-7110
FAX: (202) 463-7107
Consumer Ignorance U-tube video